"Mr. Allison was selected to do this study because of his relevant expertise and he is a public servant widely respected by Democrats and Republicans alike," said Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman. Schultz added that Allison's "analysis of the DOE loan portfolio was thorough and reliable as evident by additional independent reports affirming his findings." The Obama campaign said, "Having completed an independent assignment does not cost him his right to continue participating in the political progress on behalf of many candidates, as he has in the past."
A former Merrill Lynch executive, Allison worked for several Republican administrations and earned a reputation for tackling troubled federal programs. During McCain's failed 2000 presidential run, he served as national finance chairman and was rumored to be McCain's choice to become treasury secretary if he had won.
Allison was named by President George W. Bush to head Fannie Mae after the quasi-government home lending agency was placed in conservatorship in 2008 following the Wall Street collapse. A year later, Obama named Allison as an assistant treasury secretary to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program that Bush had created to stabilize Wall Street banks and investment houses reeling with toxic debt.
During his work at the Treasury Department, Allison was among top officials who crossed swords with TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky, who accused the department of failing to properly track government bailout money given to banks and investment houses. Barofsky declined to comment about his dealings with Allison.
Allison left the Treasury Department in 2010 but returned last year to head up the review of energy loans. The White House agreed to the review in the wake of mounting Republican criticism after Solyndra, a California firm, went belly up. The bankruptcy cost U.S. taxpayers $528 million in lost loans.
Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., who chairs the House Energy Committee's oversight subcommittee, said Allison's donations to the Obama campaign back up GOP warnings this year that the White House review was suspect. Stearns said Allison's "financial support for the Obama campaign undermines (his) credibility and shows once again that the president did not want a careful, independent review of his risky green jobs scheme."
Allison's role as a large Obama donor "raises serious questions about an administration that puts campaign cash before taxpayer money," said Joe Pounder, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
Allison declined to say whether he will keep donating to Obama. "Next time around," he said, "I might support a Republican."
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